back to article Not happy with PC World's customer service?

DSG employees are like one big happy family. In fact, when one of its retail operations lives next door to another - as is the case for PC World and Currys in sunny Crawley - it appears that it is not averse to sharing stock to get a sale. Such was the situation for one El Reg reader who set off on a computer shopping trip to …

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  1. Ross Luker

    Been doing that for years

    I remember 10 years back I bought a PC from Curry's, only to be told there weren't any in stock (after I'd paid!) The manager made a phone call and I ended up picking my PC up from a guy waiting outside PC World...

  2. Nick L

    Clue stick for PC world, perhaps?

    If anyone senior from PC World - or DSG even - is reading this, perhaps it should serve as a wakeup call.

    PC World's customer service notoriety is well earned: I was trying to buy a macbook only to give up as the sales process fell into the "too hard" pile. Currys, on the other hand, were excellent when it came to buying a plasma tv...

    Perhaps staff would benefit from moving between the groups in the same manner that stock appears to, because the PC world (and Dixons) staff seem to care little for their job other than when it comes to selling irrelevant and unnecessary insurance.

  3. Nick Clark

    Fear and Loathing in PC World

    I used to work in a PC World down in the West Country. As an astrophysicist and MCSE I was slightly overqualified for the job, but I was desperate...

    Back then we only shared stock between other PC World's. Maybe things are different these days.

    Even so, having worked there I wouldn't dream of buying anything as expensive as a computer from them - the 'experts of PC World' are no more experts than supermarket shelf-stackers are cordon bleu chefs.

    My favourite piece of rubbish that was sold whilst I was there was a 1GHz PC that came with a 'firewire port'. This was a hot seller as it was the fastest PC in the store and people loved the idea that they'd be able to plug in their not-available-yet firewire devices. Amusingly we later found that the PC wasn't actually firewire capable - it just had a port - that was all!

  4. Jonathan

    heh

    It is the same in Cardiff with them next door to each other and I have often done the same. PCWORLD is terrible for having staff on hand to assist which is so odd considering they specifically market their products/sales and services to those who may not be the most pc literate people.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why have I heard all this before..........

    Having been made redundant from DSGi recently after 18 years with the group, I have worked in all chains of the company. I have often heard about the PC World customer service issues but never really experienced it until now.

    I also had £1000 burning a hole in my pocket and wanted to buy a large screen laptop to replace my ageing 15" Toshiba which had served me well (also from PC World) I walked into a Birmingham branch and started to wander around the high end of the laptop section. In my day, anyone staring at high price products warranted an immediate acknowledgement (as should all customers) but after 10 minutes of poking and prodding I was still yet to be noticed. I decided to take matters into my own hands and ask the guy on the till if he could help as he seemed to be doing nothing other than standing there with his hands in his pockets. He said he couldn't leave the till but would get someone for me. He left the till (!) and wandered around the store to find someone. Alas, he could not and at that point I left. Ridiculous.

    Of course the Curry's store was opposite and so tried there thinking that they hadn't got the laptop in question. I was greeted when I walked through the door and directed to the relevant section where a girl was busy selling to a young couple, yes you guessed it, the laptop I wanted. She briefly interrupted her sales pitch and asked me if I was OK. Several seconds later, I was in with the sale and we all eventually went away with a laptop each. The funny part was that in my conversation with her afterwards, she said that she had to get 5 of these laptops from PC World as they were one of the main deals and they had run out because they were selling so well. Not suprising really is it. PC World have the world at there feet but employ 'Sales People' not 'Computer specialists'. You cannot retail PC's the same way as Washing machines or TV's. Its a whole new ball game.

  6. Simon Day

    Have you ever played pass the hot sell?

    Its a great little game.

    It only starts after you go into a store and after several times of saying what you want specifically, the sales person is STILL trying to sell you something else, that you don't want.

    The rules of the game are pretty simple, you start saying yes. And yes to the next thing, and yes to the next thing.

    Extra points if you can get them to unpack one of the models and demo it to you.

    More extra points if they have to lug large boxes to the checkout before ringing them up.

    The final move is when at the check out you say thanks very much, I don't want all that stuff but I'm glad you enjoyed yourself, now how about selling me what I came in for?

    Some take it in good humour and a lesson in when to push sales, others get really pissed off and its time to walk next door.

    Either way its a nice amount of satisfaction when you see their face!!

  7. Jon Wilson

    Don't forget to order online

    Most folks will know this already, but PC World are actually quite competetive on price IF YOU ORDER VIA "COLLECT @ STORE" online. Otherwise if you pay the full store price, their prices are gouge-worthy.

    You order online, get a reference number and take it to the shop where they *should* have already picked the item off the shelf for you. The staff competence varies, of course, but I've done it several times and not been too badly treated (this is at Cambridge, where funnily enough the Currys is right next to the PC World too).

    I don't know quite what certain regulatory authorities would eventually have to say about it, but it's certainly handy to know, for now.

    Jon

  8. Robert Long

    There's no service like no service

    PC World have been making it a feature of their shops to ignore customers for years. I remember going into one in Aldershot to buy a specific machine that they had in stock. Twenty minutes later, after having asked four people including the manager to sell me the damn thing I left, pissed on the building (no toilets for customers enduring long waits) and ordered from Dabs instead. I had to wait a couple of days for it to be delivered but if I'd waited for the staff at PC World, I'd still be waiting today.

  9. Kevin Rodger

    Sales Cowboys!!!

    Did a course in Cobol at uni about 8 years ago. I thought I would go and get myself a Cobol programming suite. Went into PC World and spoke to one of their "Consultants". He asked who made Cobol and what kind of processor and hard disk it came with!!!

    Suffice to say that after I stopped laughin I walked out!!!!

  10. robin nathan

    PC World? Should be called "Not many PCs World"

    I had the dubious fortune of visiting the Swindon PC World recently. For an enormous store there was a surprising lack of actual PCs.

    My wife and I looked around the shop for a good five minutes before stumbling across the 12 or so machines stuffed at the back of the store.

    We had to navigate our way through acres of software, mice, MP3 players, re-writable CD Roms, drives, paper, furniture and all other manner of accesories and peripheries before finding what we actually came in for.

    When we did find them we were very dissapointed - the quality of the machines was shocking. It almost looked like there should have been a "Buy a tank of fuel, and get a computer free" sign hanging up.

    For me it all came to a head when a greasy haired spotty oik pushed pat my wife without so much as an "excuse me" or any other such example of good manners.

    Frankly my advice to any discerning buyer would be keep well away unless there really is no where else you can possibly go.

  11. Steve

    Use Collect In Store? My arse...

    Often when stuck in some back water with no decent trade outlets and desperate for some random piece of overpriced IT I have used the collect in store feature.

    The most usual outcome is that I stand at the desk for half an hour only to be told to some bod who would struggle to serve penny sweets at a saturday market that 'it hasn't been picked yet' despite leaving a good hour + 3 just to ensure the lazy mofo's have had time to pull their thumbs from their arses and go and get it off the shelf - I then have to go and get it myself. If it wasn't for the fact that the prices were so different I should have learnt by now just to do that straight off.

    I pity any non-IT savvy who fall for the ideal of big brand = quality and who actually rely on the advic of these monkeys to buy or fix a PC. PC World makes dell customer care look distinctly 5 Star and most of the Dell call centre staff speak better english - next time your in store ask the sales rep 'can you say dime bar'....

  12. Law

    Oh god

    I don't know which is worse - looking for a Compaq with Vista, or going to PC World?!

    Actually - both are just as evil. So tell me, why didn't the guy just buy it online?! PC World and Curry's suck for prices!! Although I must admit if something is potentially a returnable item then Curry's customer service are alright when you need to return stuff.... but if it was me, after the experience of crappy PC World staff I would have opted not to give ANY of the group my hard earned cash!!

  13. Graham Jordan

    God bless DSG

    I once worked for PC Service Call (telephone support for PC's purchased within the DSG group), they fired for me for telling a customer freeserve was shit. That was in August. It wasnt until the following April they realised they'd continued to pay me in full during this time.

    Thank you DSG, i spent all that money on hard liquor, vinyl and columbias finest..

  14. Simon Ball

    Bad driving out the good

    It's a vicious circle. The fundamental problem is that the level of cluelessness of the average PC World customer is so high that it's physically painful for anyone who actually knows anything about computers to have to deal with them - so PC World can only attract staff who are equally clueless. But it's even more painful for the knowledgable to have to deal with sales monkeys who are both clueless and aggressive, so you'll never attract knowledgeable customers (well, than and the prices are a rip-off).

    Although, I suppose that if the average customer is so clueless, staff can be forgiven for thinking that they don't actually know what they want.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When is a PC expert not a PC expert....

    After working for DSG for 18 years I recently left for a real job in IT. My final 2 years were spend dealing with PCworld "engineers" from the PCservices internal helplines. At that time it was a rarity to find any experts with any kind of computing qulifications or accumen. Rather than try to diagnose a fault properly they would ask for all, or nearly all, the internal components to try and resolve an fault.........Whats wrong with that?, i hear you ask......

    Well......If the staff were experts then they would be able to find out what was wrong with a computer without too much fuss(ie faulty HDD, RAM, CPU..etc). So, by definition, if PCworld staff are experts then anyone with an A+ must be a IT demigod

    I don't shop at PC world unless desparate an then i will use the COLLECT@STORE so I don't get hassled by the staff

  16. Tr0n

    I won't moan.

    I've only gone into PC world a hand-full of times and have nothing much to moan about as I don't need help from the guys that often.

    The one time I was suprised was when I walked in with a stick of RAM and has mistakenly tried to use DDR SDRAM while the machine only catered for plain SDRAM.. The guy caught my mistake straight away and I was able to get out of the store within 10 minutes (this is in Portsmouth).

  17. Stu

    Three things wrong . . .

    This obviously intelligent shopper made three critical mistakes here -

    -He went to PC World

    -He went to PC World to buy a laptop

    -He went to PC World to buy a Compaq laptop.

    Yes thats right, he didn't actually make ANY intelligent shopping decisions.

    And there are a number of other issues with his purchase too, he has obviously gone out and bought a new super zippy machine simply to run Vista with its spiffy interface and its terrible immaturity, including its occasional inability to copy and move ordinary files in a timely manner, its the usual story.

    Perhaps he belongs in PC World with the other morons.

  18. Stefan Richter

    Let's make a movie

    Hahaha this is brilliant. And here was me thinking that the PC World Store at Fosse Park in Leicester was particularly bad. Thanks, now I know it's merely average and to this day I still do not understand how the staff can be so effective in avoiding every customer that walks through the door.

    I think we should all arm ourselves with hidden cameras and start a video blog on the topic, it would be a comedy hit.

  19. Lee

    PC World Sales tactics

    I used to be a manager at PCW and subsequently left because of the underhand sales tactics and the new 'One Team' strategy....ie...

    1. PCW nearly always carry the stock, but because the store has a number of daily KPI's to meet - the most notorious one being that extended warranty cover should be sold with PCs/laptops - they say it isn't in stock because it will affect the said KPI if the customer isn't willing to purchase the extended warranty, and subsequently the GM will get a rollicking!!!!

    2. The new strategy is 'One Team'. This means that all staff should be proficient in all areas of the store. Therefore there are now no sales people who get commission - they are rewarded on customer service which is measured by mystery shoppers. The downside of this is that you may get a warehouse person trying to sell you a PC who has no IT knowledge or customer facing skills whatsoever!!!

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nowt wrong with compaq

    I have a very nice HP compaq nc6320, which runs FreeBSD 'Vista' (ok 7-CURRENT) just lovely.

    Course, I didn't buy it in PC World - if I did, my boss would probably have had to fire me for smoking crack, as that's what it would take for me to go into PC World again.

  21. Silvergunner

    I got the same

    This happened to me at PC World in Sheffield. I asked about 6 salespeople about a game (Guitar Hero 2) but with no help at all. A short walk to Currys and they were able to sell the package to me.

    Seriously, it was a comedy of errors. I had the money and was about to buy, yet they were rushing around do absolutely nothing. If work at PC World involves wandering around aimlessly, no wonder Currys is better.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    stock & nonsense

    I had always assumed they built the 2 stores side by side because they had a single stockroom out back.

    These days I go out of my way NOT to spend any money with the "Evil Empire" of DSG.

    I had a huge fight with them once over a faulty digital camera where they flat out refused to honour their instore warranty. Tried to charge £150 repairs for a 2 week old £200 camera! Local trading standards said "At least they weren't refusing to honour the extended paid-for warranty - we get those complaints all the time". Being an awkward sort I got the manufacturer to pay the bill.

    Two BIG clues about DSG after-sales support:

    1) Help Desk staff refuse to give their names - so are not accountable for their words or deeds.

    2) They have a HUGE and stroppy legal department. The basic attitude is "Tough - see you in court mate."

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    their recruitment sucks too

    i applied to work at the PC giant a while back while between jobs. i build computers in my spare time, and have had to repair more than a few, so i thought i would have more than enough technical knowledge, but got told i was not suitable as i don't have enough computing knowledge.

    does that mean the tards they seem to employ are all MCSEs? if they are, they are also the best actors known to man...

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Collect @ Store

    Last time I tried to buy something on their website and collect at store (a Wii Nunchuk), I succeeded in reserving the item, went to collect it, only to discover that it wasn't on the collection desk. I asked a member of staff (they were all hanging around by the tills having a laugh together - heaven forbid they should help a customer), who went to check the warehouse - none there. Their computer said there were two in stock, and their website certainly indicated that they had stock, so either they had over sold, had some nicked, or the monkeys didn't know where to find them.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Serves him right

    You'd have to be nuts to buy ANYTHING in PeeCee World.

    1.5 metre USB cable - £19.99 - even has a big sign above saying "Great Value"

    I rest my case

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Par for the course

    This is just about par for the course with PC "World". I went in once with a grand several years ago to buy a PC. I couldn't even get staff members to turn the unit I was interested on. I then found the manager and showed him the £1000 pounds ( in cash ) in my pocket and informed him that his firm wasn't getting the wodge as they couldn't give a f**k about their customers desires being only interested in selling them whatever the management wanted pushed out that month. Needless to say I haven't been back for anything major from them again.

  27. Phil

    Title

    Ahhh PCWorld. You've all probably experienced this.

    A friend asks you for advice on buying a new PC. You tell them in no uncertain terms not to go to PCWorld. You spend time searching them out very good on-line deals. You give them a good choice of decent hardware at a very good price.

    A few days later the phone rings, it's your friend.

    "You couldn't come round and look at my new PC for me could you?, it seems to be going really slow"

    "Which one did you end up going for?" you ask.

    "I went into PCWorld at the weekend and got a good deal" they respond.

    "What make did you buy?" you say, knowing full well what the answer will be

    "Packard Bell" they respond

  28. Michael J Evans

    It's my local PC World too

    The PC World in question is also my own local store. As one who hates to be harrassed by sales people and borders on becoming hostile ("No, I don't need any help. If I do I'll ask") this store is a dream to wander around in total peace, with barely a sales person in sight, let alone stalking you.

    The 'Customer Service' desk is a different matter though. Often a crowd of irate people waiting and waiting.

  29. Craig

    No joke...

    About 7 years ago I needed a new 56k modem.

    Went in, a friendly chap advanced towards me and the following conversation occured :

    Him: Can I help you?

    Me: Yeah, I'm wondering where your modems are..

    Him: Errr... I think...err... *asks another "IT" bod*..over here.

    Me: Ok, cheers. I'll go with this one *picks up an internal PCI modem*

    Him: So, do you work in computers then?

    Me: Yeah, have done for a while..

    Him: Ahhh, ok. So what's the difference between this internal modem and this external modem?

    I bet he's working in thier "Tech Team" now..

  30. Darren Radley

    IT's Dead Jim

    Back in the days of 33.6k dialup I had the misfortune of troubleshooting a modem a fried purchased from PCWorld. Only to find that the card was DOA. I spent 20 minutes arguing with the tech monkey. It was very much like the famous Monty Python sketch involving a customer, shop worker and a parrot!

    Anyhow I still go there to have a nose around get them to demo the latest shiny toy, then walk out laughing at their lack of knowledge and buy on-line elsewhere.

    EIther that or I just go in there to wind them up when I've had a crap day!

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Never bought there, never intend to.

    Years back my then-local PC World had a management change and sacked all their long haired male staff. As a ponytailed man working for IBM at the time I concluded that they didn't want people like me in their stores. I don't feel I lost anything from the decision.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: Long haired staff

    Heh, funnily enough Maplins have a plethora of long-haired staff, and they actually have knowledge of products in their stores.

  33. David Hixson-Ward

    PC Whirled

    I have had the misfortune to have to go into PC World on several occasions as I really need to replace something that's broken and its got to be fixed that day - can't wait for next day delivery!

    It pities me when I go in there as the number of times I've been looking for a lead (overpriced) or something else (overpriced) and a member of the public has come up to me and asked me for advice.

    The response each and every time to the other customer is always the same:

    "Don't buy it from here!"

    PC World has turned into an organisation that has stopped listening to its customers and now only listens to its auditors. Sad, really when you think about it as if they did their job properly - its a fantastic opportunity to take over the world (of joe public PC sales and do it properly).

    Luckily for me Maplins has just opened around the corner from PC World in Poole - they still don't know much, but stock levels are better and the prices lower.

    HOWEVER - If you have a business account with PC World, they aren't too bad - about on par with most other e-tailers - although they are still painful.

    I buy everything I can from Misco, DABs and a few other mail order companies. Just can't face going into PC World these days and seeing all those poor customers getting shafted.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sad

    I was looking at a sad and neglected Mac iBook on a sad neglected Apple stand in PC World. It had a couple of keys missing where customers had abused the poor thing.

    When the member of PCW staff came along I asked him why they didn't take more care of their machines and, in particular, why they didn't make something of the features of the computer ... "like Airport, for instance." I said.

    His reply was ... "We haven't opened our airport store yet."

  35. Rich

    RE: their recruitment sucks too

    No they dont employ anyone with MCSE's because anyone with an MCSE would demand too much money, and have the brains not to work there. If you applied to be a general shop floor member of staff that sell PC's then you would have got in, but you applied for the Tech centre which was a waste of time.

    Id be surprised if any el Reg readers shopped at PC World. I like someone else only go there if i need same day equipment for customers, as the lack of a decent size maplin is appauling when their magazines are huge. For my own PC's i wouldnt shop there if it was the last place on earth.

  36. Matt Horrocks

    They're a joke

    I worked in Office World (before it was snapped up by Staples, on the same retail park as PCW) for a few years before moving into network "management" at a school. We sold PCs, and the things people had been told or tried to be sold at PC World - a couple would come in after being to PC World and they're just after something to surt the net and do word processing and PC World had tried to sell them a high spec gaming machine for £1000 when a £400 machine would be perfectly adequete for what they wanted it for.

    Needless to say we got the sale (and we didn't get commission, but that didn't affect our customer service)

    Often overhear what they're saying to people in store, sometimes correcting them and make them look foolish in front of would-be customers is fun.

  37. Carl Whitehead

    Title

    Same idea worked for me in Orpington last Sunday - PC World staff couldn't care less, Currys' staff extremely helpful. My sale was made in Currys

  38. the70sMan

    Oh dear...

    ...judging by previous posts.

    I confess to buying a Vista Compaq laptop from PC-World, which packed up after a whole 10 days' use. (I know, I know, I should know better....)

    It's now coming to the end of its guaranteed 28 days' repair turnaround time, ie probably sitting on a shelf being ignored until day 27. Today they asked me what my Vista password was, even though I'd previously told them they could return the box to factory settings, as I hadn't installed anything of significance. They've also just told me that the 28 days rises to 42 if it turns out to be a software problem, so what's the betting it's going to be a software problem, even though it seemed to me to be clearly hardware.

    And does anyone know what a 'soak test' entails? It sounds ominous.

    On the plus side, the original helpline call was answered quickly (on a Sunday) and dealt with courteously. The guy even gave me some crucial information (since shown to be correct) on setting up a wi-fi network with a host running XP and a client running Vista. If anyone has run into this problem, ill documented by Microsoft, do leave a posting here, as I have the answer.

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